Celebrating Black History Every Day in Midtown Houston
*Photo credit: Community Artists’ Collective
February is Black History Month, celebrated each year to honor the achievements of Black Americans. Starting in 1925 as Negro History Week, it was founded by the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History and historian Carter G. Woodson. During America’s 200th birthday celebration in 1976, it was expanded to the full month of February. This month was chosen in part to honor the birthdays of two Americans who shaped Black history in the U.S. – Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.
During Black History Month, communities around the country celebrate the impact of Black-owned businesses, the contributions of its diverse residents, and historic events that shaped our country. In Midtown Houston, we celebrate these pioneering organizations and individuals who help shape our community every day.
Inspiring Change through Education and the Arts in Houston
When you live and work in Midtown Houston, or visit us here, you can experience the impacts of Black history every day. Here are just a few of our local organizations you can visit, learn more about, and support this month:
- The Buffalo Soldiers National Museum is the Center for African American Military History. Visitors are inspired by the individual stories and contributions of African American men and women in the U.S. military, from the country’s earliest conflicts to those serving today. Did you know that one Buffalo Soldier was a woman? The remarkable story of Cathay Williams and many other women who have served in the U.S. military are highlights of any museum visit.
- Since 1976, The Ensemble Theatre has helped to preserve African American artistic expression, while entertaining Houston audiences all year round. It is one of the only theaters in the region dedicated to producing works that portray the African American experience and is one of the largest African American-owned and operated theaters in the country. Each year, the theater produces six contemporary and classical works on the main stage. Paradise Blue, Clyde’s, and Brother Toad will premiere at the theater this year.
- The Community Artists’ Collective promotes the creativity of African American artists. Through exhibits, youth programming, and more, it serves as a catalyst for change, bringing the arts to underserved communities. This includes helping preserve cultural and historic points of interest in Houston, bringing people together at cultural events and community festivals, and investing in public art projects. Sign up for the collective’s newsletter to learn about all of the events happening this year!
- S.H.A.P.E. Community Center is a community staple with locations in both Midtown and Houston’s Third Ward neighborhood. They have played a critical role in uniting Houstonians and changing lives. Their mission is to improve the quality of life for people of African descent (all people) through programs and activities, with emphasis on unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. Deloyd T. Parker Jr., the co-founder and executive director of S.H.A.P.E. worked in the Ujamaa Villages of east Africa and traveled to many countries in the eastern part of Africa, spreading S.H.A.P.E.’s philosophy. As one of the most visible and involved centers in Houston’s African American community and the Houston community as a whole, S.H.A.P.E. has led the way toward justice, equal opportunity, and institution building in the city, state, nation, and world.
Black-owned Businesses Serving Houston Residents All Year Long
There are many black-owned businesses in Houston that you can support throughout Black History Month and the rest of the year. Here are two of the most delicious to consider:
- The Breakfast Klub – Grabbing breakfast here can include a wait, but it’s worth it to sample owner Marcus Davis’ famous wings & waffle and katfish & grits dishes. The restaurant has been delighting foodies for more than twenty years after Davis opened it when he was just 30 years old. Beyond mouth-watering fare, the Breakfast Klub serves as more than just a restaurant. In the historically Black neighborhood, it serves as a welcome center where residents and visitors come together to celebrate African American history and culture – its walls filled with familiar faces. Today Davis is helping Black entrepreneurs launch and grow their own businesses, including serving on the PepsiCo Black Restaurant Advisory Council.
- Phil & Derek’s Restaurant – Serving Houstonians soul food for 15 years, this popular local restaurant is owned by John Cruise and Chef Kennan. It’s also a well-known spot for jazz and R&B music lovers, and its Sunday brunch has been honored as Best Morning After Brunch for three years running. On the menu you’ll find favorites such as blackened crawfish, house gumbeaux, creole deviled eggs, and Louisiana-style etouffee.
No matter how you celebrate Black History Month this year, you’re welcome to join us in Midtown Houston anytime to learn more about the inspirational history of the Buffalo Soldiers, take in an unforgettable night at The Ensemble Theatre, celebrate local artists at a Community Artists’ Collective exhibit, or become a change agent at S.H.A.P.E. When you top it off with a visit to one of our many mouth-watering cafes and restaurants, including the Breakfast Klub and Phil & Derek’s, you’ll never want to leave. If you live or work in Midtown Houston, don’t forget to share its historic landmarks and thriving business and restaurant scene with your friends and family.